I was recently interviewed on Chicago’s WGN Radio for Bob Sirott’s Morning Drive to talk about, what else … travel. Bob asked me all kinds of questions, from how to deal with all the recent travel delays and cancellations to finding the best travel credit cards. We also talked about my 12 travel tips for travel to Europe, including using this taxi app so you don’t get taken the long way and overcharged.

One of the stories Bob asked me to comment on was this: Is more casual dress on flights tied to rise in unruly passenger behavior? As I told Bob, when I first read the headline, I thought it was a ridiculous question. But when I read the article and its source, I started thinking that the author, Chris Elliott, might have a point.

He says: “There is compelling research linking behavior and attire. His research reveals that well-dressed people never cause drama on flights. Pilots report the troublemakers are the ones that look like they just rolled out of bed.”

Chris writes on his website, “There’s been a sharp decline of manners on board. The number of unruly passenger incidents shot up by 47% in 2022, according to a new report by the International Air Transport Association. The organization reported one unruly incident for every 568 flights last year, up from one per 835 flights in 2021.”

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Chris then quotes Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University, who says, “When people dress better, they tend to behave better.” He thinks “a dress code might help.”

When you think about all of the unruly passengers you’ve seen on social media or in the news, how many of them were dressed well? I can’t think of any and most were indeed dressed like sloppily.

I know I’m not one to comment since I’m no fashionista. I purposely wear comfortable, baggy clothes on a plane instead of sharp-looking, tight and restrictive clothing for health reasons. You don’t want to restrict the flow of blood.

However, I do know a lot of business travelers who wear suits on and off the plane but once up in the air, they change into pajamas or something much more comfortable. Then they change back into their suit prior to landing. I’m pretty sure President Joe Biden and other past presidents have done this, too.

I always change into pajamas on long-haul flights when the airline gives them to passengers. I do it almost immediately after takeoff for a number of reasons but mostly because that’s when the restroom tends to be the cleanest (except on Asian airlines like Korean Air, pictured below, where the flight attendants clean premium cabin restrooms after every passenger.)

So what do you think? Should there be a dress code on airplanes in the hope that passengers will be better behaved?

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5 Comments On "Should Airlines Introduce a Dress Code? Would This Decrease the Number of Unruly Passengers? Some Experts Think So"
  1. Marcy Gross Schackne|

    I agree with Christopher Elliott … My vote goes to a dress code.

  2. tgt|

    I am usually horrified at what some people are wearing on airplanes, but assume they do not own a mirror? Back in the day, it was required to wear a suit if traveling in Business or First Class. Why I think that is a bit too strict, maybe banning booty shorts and pajamas?

  3. Robert|

    I’m all for a dress code as long as they change other things back like they used to be like mandating humane seat sizes and legroom, and allowing fewer seats on planes.

  4. Lisa Halliday|

    I’d be happy with a dress code, but I fear that will only lead to scenes at the airport when these ragamuffins are told they can’t board a plane. I don’t think it will eliminate bad behavior, but I guess it’s better to have it at the airport then on a plane. I also think that shoehorning people into seats with too little space plays a large part, too.

  5. Spowell|

    Dress code is necessary as it reflects on your character and behavior

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